2015 Goals – and the magic number is…

Overall success rate: 84%

But how did it break down by category?

Qualify for AEC’s – Yep! Qualified, went, even got ribbons and won stuff. That made my whole year, with just this one goal met.

Score below 35 in dressage AND finish on that score – Did this more than once, but that 28.3 totally rocked my world.

Get an actual, honest to god stretchy trot circle from Henry – He does this all the time now, it’s his new favorite.

Score a 7 or above on our free walk – this happened 3 times!

Stop being such a pansy about the down banks – Neither of us care anymore.

Be more fit – I went up and down with this but ultimately at this moment I’m not more fit than I was at this time last year so I can’t call it a win.

Keep Henry happy and healthy – He’s looking and feeling pretty great this days. A little TOO great.

Improve my attitude toward dressage – I still don’t love it, but I feel like we’ve come to have mutual respect and understanding.

Get a 4-legged bun in the oven – This got pushed to 2016.

Horse Goals success rate: 78%



Be more appreciative of my awesome SO – I think I’m better about this.

Be less selfish – I feel like I was better about this too.

Continue to always be as honest and transparent as possible while still being as kind as possible – I know I sometimes come across as brutally honest, but for the most part I at least tried to take off the sharpest edges.

Travel more – I’m in love with Belgium now. Trip of a lifetime.

Get at least one more tattoo – This is on the docket for sometime in the next few months but didn’t happen this year.

Compete in at least 2 triathlons and place in the top 3 – Ok, I feel like I should get a 1/2 point for effort here. I tried to enter a triathlon and it got cancelled, then the other two I wanted to do conflicted with horse show dates.

Personal Goals success rate: 75%



Move to my own domain nameBoom.

Roll out a more polished, clean look – Definitely an improvement over the old format.

Keep staying true to my original intentions – This is what I wrote for this goal:

Be as forthright as possible, be reliable, and always speak what’s on my mind even if it’s a tough subject. People won’t always agree with you, and it’s just not possible for everyone to like you, but as long as you have integrity people will always respect you. I think one of the worst things we can do as bloggers is to censor ourselves to the point of becoming automatons. We have the luxury of a built in audience – something most people do not. I think we should use it as an opportunity to speak up when the situation arises. I want to do that more.

I can say 100% that I did that. There were a couple of tough subjects and people definitely did not always agree, or like what I said, or like ME at all (to put it lightly), but I said what I felt needed to be said and I would do it all again without hesitation.

This year was both one of my best ever and one of my worst ever. My AEC experience was one of the best moments of my entire life, but the loss of my mom is still a deep, fresh wound. As time goes on I miss her more, not less. She was the first person I wanted to call after AEC when I was at cloud nine level euphoria. She was also the first person I wanted to call after Greenwood when I felt so utterly defeated. But I know what she would have said to me both times, so I said those things to myself instead and thanked her for the wisdom.

While the numbers and percentages are fun and neat to look at, the parameters have changed. My new measure of success is: would my mom be proud of me for what I did? For HOW I did it? If the answer is yes, then I’ve done the right thing, the right way. And I know she would have been proud of me this year.

Personal Goals success rate: 100%



Black or white?

This might be my new favorite gif of all time. It’s mesmerizingly weird.

But anyway… setting aside the MJ version of the black or white situation…

Henry has been wearing his black Majyk Equipe XC boots for over a year now. I got him black because, uh, I don’t really know. His legs are black? I’m boring? I’m lazy about cleaning things? All of the above, I guess. I’ve always been a “match the boots to the horse” kind of thinker. Grays wear white, chestnuts wear brown, bays wear black. That’s just how it goes. Unless the horse has white legs then by all means, go nuts and get white. Or if you’re a DQ. They love white. But I don’t buy horses with lots of chrome, and I’m not a DQ.

terrified dressage face = definitely not a DQ

When Majyk Equipe sent me a pair of their new Gen 2 XC boots to try, abuse, and review, they blew my mind a little. Not just the boots themselves (which I am going to review as soon as I get my media together) but because they sent me white. I opened the box and my mind was blown. White? But my horse is plain bay. Can I do that? Do the laws of the universe allow it?

Then I thought about it and realized I’ve actually seen a lot of dark colored event horses wearing white boots on XC lately. Like… a lot. So wait a minute – is this a thing now? A thing that I didn’t even realize? I texted Trainer and she was like “I love white boots on dark horses, keep the white!”. Well eff me, the world has passed me by. Majyk Equipe knew. I didn’t know.

When I put the boots on Henry at first I was like “Whoa white”. And then I was like “Oh. Oooohhhh, I kinda get it. Damn Henny you fancy!”. It has grown on me a lot. I dig the white now.

What do you think? All other factors besides pure aesthetics aside… do you like white boot Henry?


Or black boot Henry?

side note: this is an old picture from May. Wow he looks A LOT different now.


2016 show plans. Kinda. Maybe?

It’s always funny when I sit down and try to make plans, because we all know how well THAT kind of thing works out. Especially with horses. It’s laughable really.

But if we don’t have plans then we’re just aimlessly wandering about, which makes life pointless. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Point being – my OCD self definitely needs a plan, even if that plan doesn’t actually happen. And maybe I’m just filled with a false sense of confidence because our 2015 plans actually, by some miracle, worked out. Either way, here’s what I’m thinking for 2016:

Feb – PH schooling HT (Novice) or SA jumper show

March 25-26: MCP USEA HT or Curragh schooling HT (Novice)

April 23-24: Holly Hill USEA HT (Novice)

May 28: Willow Draw USEA HT (Novice)

July 14-17: Coconino Novice 3-Day in AZ (Novice)

Fall is where things get more sketchy, but:

Oct 1-2: Fleur de Leap USEA HT (Training)

Oct 22: PH USEA HT or Quail Run Farm schooling HT (Training)

Nov 5-6: Willow Draw USEA HT (Training)


If everything actually went as planned, we’d be showing in Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. That sounds awesome to me, so things probably won’t go as planned.

Really my entire year is plotted around the Coconino N3D in July, and the idea of trying to go to venues that we haven’t been to yet. Because doing things we haven’t already done is what makes it fun, right? If Coconino doesn’t happen then maybe we’ll go to Georgia for a couple weeks instead. If THAT doesn’t happen, maybe we’ll aim for AEC in Tryon, NC.

Or, more likely, none of it will happen because I’ll be too poor from buying a truck. Details.


Buck Davidson Clinic Recap

Sadly, torrential rain made the XC course was too wet to be safe for Sunday’s rides, therefore cutting our weekend short. While definitely a disappointment, I still got a lot out of even just one day with Buck. I came away with lots of things to work on, got a much needed confidence boost, and made some new friends. That’s a win.

Saturday was a stadium lesson, and we started out with the typical “tell me about you and your horse” part. I told him a very brief version of my and Henry’s history, then told him that our stadium has gone off the rails a bit lately and that I felt like I just wasn’t riding well in general.


Then we went out on a circle as a group and did some w/t/c work. The main exercise we did here was putting our reins on the buckle and then collecting/lengthening the gaits off of only seat and leg. I’d like to say we were good at this, but no… not so much. It didn’t help that Henry was quite excited to be there and ready to GO. Enthusiam, he gots it. Then we went back to a normal rein length and worked on adjustability in the gaits a bit more. Point made – we depend too much on our reins to adjust the horse.


After the warm-up we moved on to jumping. We started with a simple 3-jump serpentine exercise that really stressed the importance of rhythm, pace, having a plan, and executing that plan. It’s always the simple exercises that highlight those issues immediately. Luckily we didn’t have too much of a problem with the serpentine, except Buck wanted me to really keep Henry bent more around the turns (which ended up being pretty much the entire theme of the lesson for me). He stressed that it’s the rider’s job to get the right pace and keep a good rhythm, but we shouldn’t let ourselves become obsessed with finding a distance – that once we start trying to hunt for it we inevitably mess with the rhythm, the pace, or both. He was also big on always finishing the exercise no matter what happens. His reasoning was that you can’t stop at a horse show to regroup or start over, so you have to learn to ride through mistakes. Then we added the serpentine before and after some other fences.

Once the serpentine exercise was conquered, we moved on to other courses. He had us jumping on a more open, forward pace than I’m really used to. The first course or two went fine, and then Henry did pretty much what he did to me at Greenwood where he totally just flipped me the bird and basically locked his jaw and took off. He was like “You want forward? WATCH ME FLY!”. There was a fine line between forward and running, and Henry crossed it. I really could not get him back, either. He braced his jaw and just pulled me around. I have to admit, when I pulled him up I was very very frustrated. Henry’s tail has just been LIT ON FIRE lately and since it’s something he’s not done before, I’m at a bit of a loss about how to fix it. Buck suggested that when he starts pulling on me like that, I need to really overbend him to the inside, get him around my leg, and then give with the inside rein to break the cycle of pulling vs pulling. Once we did that he got a lot better.

We also did an exercise where in the middle of a bending line we had to reach up and pat the horse’s neck first with one hand, then with the other. Again the idea being softness with the hand, while steering off the seat and leg. Pretty much all of us got very crooked in this exercise – highlighting the fact (again) that we’re depending too much on our reins.

Luckily there was someone with a really nice camera and great eye taking pictures, so hopefully I should have some nice non-iPhone pics next week. Here’s a preview snapped off of her camera’s screen.


A few other key points from Buck:

  • When you soften, the horse softens. When you tighten, the horse tightens.
  • When the horse needs a correction, make it clear and concise, and then move on. Don’t continue to nag them.
  • Use your body to help with turns after fences.
  • Coming out of the turn, it’s common to pull on the inside rein and then cause the horse to be crooked down the line. Think of funneling the horse equally between both reins for straightness and use your legs to turn.
  • If the horse is bulging out around the turn, you’re using too much inside rein.

But the main point of the day, and something Buck said to us over and over: You know how to ride, so just ride the horse. It really is that simple. Meaning: be a thinking rider, make sure that you’re riding every step, focus on the task at hand, and ride the same way at shows that you do at home. 

After the lesson I pulled Buck aside to get his suggestions for exercises that work well in a small arena and we got to talking about other things too. He scolded me a bit for what I said in the very beginning during our introductions and told me that I should never say I don’t ride well – that I ride very well, I just had to believe it. I have to say, I got a little choked up when he said that. While I don’t talk about my emotions as a rider very much, I’m extremely self-critical. I know that 99% of whatever problems Henry has are directly because of me, and there’s no doubt my confidence took a huge hit at Greenwood. We’re in a bit of a tough phase right now so it’s easy for me to feel lost and, honestly, sometimes borderline incompetent. I, much like Henry, internalize everything and it tends to fester. So while Buck doesn’t know it, the words he said to me in private were exactly what I needed to hear right now. If he has confidence in me, I have no excuse for not having confidence in myself. I need to suck it up, ride the horse the way I know how to ride him, and stop second guessing everything.

Thanks Buck – for the lesson and for the psychotherapy. 😉

It’s Gotcha Day!

I’ve now owned this sleek, majestic, delightful beast for 2 years. Jealous aren’t you? I can tell.


This is the very first picture I ever posted of him, sent to me by the friend who picked him up for me in Arkansas. I wouldn’t get to meet him until the next day when I went to get him from her place.

If you had told me two years ago that the fat, hairy, plain brown TB that I bought sight unseen off of a facebook ad would have taken me where we are today, I would not have believed you. He was meant to be a resale project for the jumpers, but obviously that didn’t happen. Fate had something better in store, and it has been an honor to get to ride and learn from this horse. He has truly changed everything for me.


Noble Outfitters Reviews – Radius vest, bridle bag, Lauren 1/4 zip

I was originally going to break all of these up into separate posts but given that a) I have so much stuff in the queue to review and b) it’s prime buying season before the holidays, I lumped them all into one for the sake of expedience. Noble Outfitters contacted me a while back asking if I’d like to review some products – I picked the Radius Vest and the Bits n’ Pieces Bridle Bag, and they sent a Lauren quarter zip shirt as well. Two out of the three items I absolutely love, the third I’m just kinda meh about.


Radius Vest

The winter weather in Texas is really prime for a vest and long sleeve shirt combination. Most of our days are in the 50’s and 60’s, which means that if you’re wearing a jacket you get hot about halfway through your warm-up. I had two vests already, both Land’s End down vests. They’re nice, but every once in a while I’ll look down and see a feather poking out, plus they’re a bit boxy. The Noble Outfitters vest is a perfect fit – slightly contoured to your shape, enough fill (poly, not down) to be warm, but not too puffy or hot. There are little details that make this vest especially appealing to me, like the cute bit pattern inner lining, the fact that the top zipper keeper is covered with fleece to prevent the zipper from scratching your neck, and the zippered pockets. I’ve washed it a few times now and it comes out of the wash looking great each time. Henry even entertained himself during a vet visit one day by trying to pull off the Noble Outfitters emblem near the pocket, but was unsuccessful. I can vouch for the fact that it’s well made!


  • perfect thickness for chilly temps
  • well made
  • soft fleece lining at the neck and in the pockets
  • 2 way zipper
  • zipped pockets


I haven’t found any yet, but when ordering keep in mind the brand runs a little bit big. I’m a 36″ bust and wear a small.

Overall Rating


Bits n’ Pieces Bridle Bag

I asked for this bag specifically because of my AEC experience. We were in tent stalls, which were on top of a dirt/gravel surface, so the dust was INSANE. All of my tack got coated in dust within just a few hours every single day. Add that to the fact that the crowns on my PS of Sweden bridles are too wide to hang well on a regular portable tack hook – they were constantly filthy from dust and/or falling on the ground. When I saw this bag (which conveniently accommodates two bridles, exactly the number I take to shows) I had to have it. It’s nicely padded, zips open nice and wide, has pockets for bits or whatever else you want to put in there, and hangs on just about anything. Best of all – the two bridle holders on the inside are adjustable nylon straps that snap back onto themselves. This means I can adjust them wide enough to fit my PS bridles in there perfectly, or adjust them tighter for a normal width crown. No more dirty bridles at shows!


  • heavy duty and well padded
  • pockets for storage
  • adjustable bridle straps
  • carrying handle
  • top hook for hanging over stall wall or fence (or hang it by the handle on a rack)


Same sentiment I had with the ringside backpack – I don’t love the black and tan color scheme, it feels a little western to me. There are prettier bridle bags out there, although IMO they don’t have nearly as many good features as this one. My old custom Dover one, while prettier, seems like a sad joke in comparison.

Overall Rating


Lauren 1/4 zip

This is your basic winter weight tech fabric type of shirt. The one I was sent is periwinkle and charcoal heather (I’ll be honest, I hate everything heather), which is kind of a hard color to match with any of my breeches. They do come in a solid navy and solid black also though. I like the thumbholes a lot, I like having the option of covering my hands a bit in the winter without having to put gloves on, and I am always a fan of a quarter zip. The fabric is a bit heavy (ie winter weight) but not too thick or hot, and the shirt is cut well. I like it and don’t have any major complaints, but I’m not as in love with it as I am with the other two items. It’s got a little pocket on the sleeve, which makes me actually want to put this in with all my winter cycling clothes instead, since I could put my ID and some cash in there easily. For me personally this shirt is more appealing for other things besides riding, so in that way it’s a good all-around item, but nothing that I haven’t seen at Target or sporting goods stores before. It lacks that extra hint of luxury and/or ingenuity that I’m always looking for. It’s a comfortable, basic, all-around piece, but as far as cold weather riding shirts go, I just prefer my merino wool Kastels. Granted they are twice as expensive as this shirt!


  • nice fabric, good winter weight tech shirt
  • nicely fitted
  • thumbholes
  • small pocket on sleeve


  • kind of a generic piece of clothing
  • don’t love the color combos

Overall Rating

Trainer holiday gifts

I always try to get a little something at the holidays for barn friends, barn help, trainers, etc. Not really to say Happy Holidays necessarily… more like “Thanks for putting up with all my bullshit this year without stabbing me in the eye”.

I’ve almost always been at a barn with a resident trainer, and in those situations everyone has tended to pool their money to buy one bigger gift – new stall curtains for shows, a nice wooden bench for the barn aisle, really nice breeches, etc.

This year is one of the few where I’ve found myself at a barn with no resident trainer. I’ve worked with a few trainers throughout the year, although one in particular bore the brunt of my general tomfoolery and about 10 million text messages. Bobby and I split her gift (poor woman, she has to put up with him too) and it’s already on order. Of course, I can’t really share it here yet because sometimes she pops in here to read my blubbering in an attempt to figure out why the hell I’m so weird.

I went back and forth for a while before I ordered it… it’s hard to pick a good trainer gift. I wanted something that was a) affordable b) useable c) personal, not just a generic gift card or something d) from a small business. No one wants to choose wrong, but if you’re like me you feel like it’s important and want to put some thought into it. Granted, I overthink EVERYTHING, especially presents… I spent 3 hours researching stereos before I bought one of the SO’s presents. So I might just be insane in general.

Do you get your trainer a gift? If so, what’s your tactic – do you go for the pretty thing, the practical thing, the edible/drinkable thing, or the fun thing? What did you get your trainer this year?


The things I didn’t like enough to review

I try to review things whether I like them or not, but the truth is that a) I tend to not be excited enough about things I don’t like to write a whole review post about them b) things that I don’t like are usually sold or flung to the far depths of my closet, thus promptly forgotten about. So I’ve tried to gather a list of all the things I can think of that I’ve had in the past couple years that I didn’t like, and write a very brief explanation as to why.

Clipmaster clippers – I’m pretty sure these things were invented by Satan. So heavy, so loud, and the damn vent blows the clipped hair right at you. They’re well made and do a good job, but so do other clippers without all the negatives. I’ll happily keep my Lister Stars.

Equine Couture suede belt – It’s a pretty belt, if you like the look of the TS suede belts but not the price. Sadly, mine started to fray and come apart within only a few wearings. When I contacted EC about it both via email and on facebook, I never heard back from them. Boo.


TuffRider/Smartpak breeches – I thought the TuffRider and SP breeches were very similar so I’ve lumped them together here. Aside from the fact that they didn’t fit me very well (really gappy in the waist yet tight in the thigh) I thought the fabric was too thick, heavy, hot, and sagged in the crotch. Of course, I’m used to something very different.

Rebound hoof pack – I saw lots of people online saying that they preferred Rebound to Magic Cushion, so when I ran out of MC I decided to give Rebound a try. It seems to work well, but it does NOT stay in the foot for more than an hour unless I wrap it. I had a lot more luck with the MC staying in. If it won’t stay in, it’s kind of useless.

Wilkers baby pad – My pretty navy and yellow Wilkers pad that I just got came apart the first time I washed it. It’s still usable, but about 2.5″ of the binding came unstitched in one corner. It’s been a while since I’ve had a Wilkers since I’ve swapped over to BobbyGee’s, and this makes me definitely want to stick with BG.

Ovation fuzzy dressage girth – This was one of the girths I bought while I was trying to find the right one for Princess Henry and god I hated this thing. It would bunch up at the ends, slide around, and generally drive me effing nuts. The elastic seemed a little TOO stretchy, so everything just moved around all over the place unless I over-tightened the hell out of it.

Total Saddle Fit leathers – I got these at a discount during a promotional deal that TSF was running, and I just feel kind of lukewarm about them. I don’t hate them… they’re fine.. but they’re a little bit wider and thicker than I prefer, and just have a bit of a cheap plasticy look to the leather. Meh. Definitely nowhere near as nice as my Schleese calfskin leathers.

Rider’s Sport sunshirt – Another “meh” for me. If I’d never had Kastels I probably would like the Rider’s Sport shirt, but in comparison it feels stiff, thick, and boxy, plus it’s a bit short in the arms and torso. Of all the sunshirts in my closet, I almost never reach for this one.

Every knock-off Ogilvy cover I’ve ever seen/tried – I tried several different covers and one knock-off pad from Etsy shops and didn’t like any of them. The materials aren’t even comparable and everything was either mis-sized (a cover that was huge, a pad that was tiny) or just did not wash/wear well at all. I’ll just spend a little extra $ on the real thing.

And not recent purchases, but since I’m on a roll of grumpiness now – general things other people love that I’ve always hated. I don’t get it. Explain these things to me:

Zocks – I understood these when we still had pull-on boots, but now I don’t get it. They’re so thin that they don’t last very long, they provide no cushion, and they feel slippery on your feet.

Show Sheen – Didn’t we realize many years ago that silicone dries out the hair?

No Knot Hairnet – If you do your hair properly, it takes 30 seconds and there will be nothing on your forehead (including knots) with just a regular Aerborn heavyweight hairnet. Plus it looks better. And you can get 6 Aerborn hairnets for the price of one No Knot.

Show Bows – I know it’s my h/j upbringing rearing it’s ugly head here, but I still get twitchy about a show bow. You used to see them a lot in eventing but now they’re fairly rare, most people seem to have gone the way of the hairnet. Granted, I am the kind of person who determines when to get a haircut based on how my helmet is fitting with my hair up in it. No way I could stuff it into a little bag on the back of my neck, I feel like that would drive me crazy.

Nylon Spur Straps – Stop it.


Okay, that was a little therapeutic.



2015 show season by the numbers

Henry’s first year as an eventer (and my first since 2003) went a lot better than I would have ever expected. We moved up to Novice sooner than planned, we made it to AEC, and more importantly Henry gained a lot of confidence. We did 7 USEA events in total, and while no doubt some were better than others (ahem, The Greenwood Stadium Massacre) overall I can’t complain.


I know. I’m impressed too. Sometimes it’s no small feat to stay in the ring despite both my and Henry’s panicked desire to flee the horrors of the rectangle. Granted, there was the time that Henry knocked the chain down with his foot when he tried to prematurely exit at A…

But there’s one part he’s exceptionally good at:


Would have been double clear XC all year except for that one time my watch died in the startbox and I accidentally accrued 3 time penalties. Sorry Henny.

Somehow we managed to come away from every show with a ribbon (even the disastrous Fall Greenwood since they mercifully gave out dressage ribbons), which is now a nice pile of satin sitting on top of the dresser in our guest room. Aside from AEC it was a very Christmas color themed year. We should try for more blue next year. Maybe some yellow for contrast.


And last but not least, the emotional toll.


It’s been real 2015, let’s do it all again next year. I’ll try to push the right button this time.

Lubed up and hairless with unicorns 

How’s that for a weekend recap title?

Henry got his fetlocks injected on Friday afternoon. With a healthy dose of sleepy juice and a twitch, he was almost not that bad about it. Almost. Not stoic, this horse. Kind of a wuss, to be honest.

He was enough of a turd about the left one that the vet was concerned about the possibility of a hematoma, so we wrapped him in Cool Cast and left him bandaged for 24 hours. I’m always super nervous the first day or so after anything like this but luckily all looked great when I pulled off the mummy wrappings. $300 worth of lube successfully transported into fetlocks. At this rate my trailer is never going to finish being refurbed.

bye bye money, I’ll miss you

On Saturday afternoon I went to a baby shower for a very good friend (we’ve been friends for almost 20 years, how scary is that?). I don’t know jack squat about babies and 99.999 times out of 100 I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a fork than go to a baby shower, but I went because it’s her. If that’s not love I don’t know what is. Also I’m no expert but I feel like I nailed her gift:

I won’t buy you diapers, but I’ll buy you vodka. Pretty sure you’re gonna need a drink after all this.

On Sunday I got on Henry for a very light w/t to see how he felt and I think it’s fair to say he’s feeling mighty fine. Where’d this fancy trot come from?

I also decided to go ahead with clip #2 of the year, except this time with some added decorations.

Yes, we have butt unicorns amidst a field of dapples. Of course, I only got about halfway through the clip before he decided he was done cooperating, so I’ll have to finish tonight.

New shoes with a new farrier today, too! Hopefully that’s the last piece of the puzzle to get Henry feeling great and ready to go.